Keep Balanced, Keep Going
A senior leader client recently told me about some challenges she is managing. It was not her own stress that was most concerning to her but that of her direct reports. She talked about one of her managers who came unglued recently after a stressful event. She reminded him that he needed to take a deep breath and regain his balance before he could begin to seek solutions. “You cannot think clearly when your anxiety level is so high”, she told him. How true. Research has shown that we literally cannot think as clearly when we are stressed.
It seems that wherever my work takes me, my clients and their colleagues are experiencing more stress, trying to do more with fewer resources and less time. Some are dealing with new roles and organizational structures, others with new clients and systems. Each new and more demanding situation applies more pressure, upsetting whatever level of stability we may have had.
How well are we managing the stress we all seem to be facing?
At the end of the day, the extent to which we can remain balanced, persevere and make good choices through challenging circumstances is what makes us effective. If we meltdown or derail when the pressure is on, we are not contributing. For leaders, maintaining balance and acuity means is a prerequisite to taking responsibility for organizational success.
We have to keep going. And we have to stay in balance to do that.
How Can We Stay in Balance?
How often do we need to take a deep breath, calm ourselves, and re-focus; before responding to a demanding client? Or an impatient manager? Before giving feedback to a team member that has performed poorly? Or before picking up the phone when our spouse or child is calling?
There are many ways to re-center ourselves, including the following:
- Take a deep breath. Even one can make a huge difference.
- Go for a long-overdue walk in the corridor or out to the parking lot.
- Do yoga.
- Keep photos nearby that relax you when you look at them; favorite family vacations, parks, gatherings of family and friends.
- Listen to music for a few minutes.
- Meditate or clear your head in whatever ways work for you.
Which tools we use is not particularly important. What is critical is that we use them. As often as we need to in order to stay sharp, focused, and relaxed. It is only then when can think most clearly and most effectively respond to the challenges we face.
I invite you to re-connect with those things that keep you balanced, and to use them. Your organizations, colleagues, clients, and families are counting on it.